COVID-19 Response Planning: Supporting Migrants with No Recourse to Public Funds

A framework to support local authorities and their partners in local decision making

This document, just published, aims to provide guidance for local decision-making on supporting people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) during the COVID-19 outbreak. Local authorities have statutory safeguarding duties towards all people in Scotland, regardless of their immigration status. They also have duties to protect public health. The guidance sets out considerations for fulfilling these duties during this period and supporting people who are additionally vulnerable because of their immigration status.

Read full document here

Coronavirus – Mental Welfare Commission advice for people using services and their family/carers

The Mental Welfare Commission has published new advice on the coronavirus situation for people who use mental health, learning disability and dementia services and for their family or carers.

The advice offers guidance and contact information aimed at helping people address some of the challenges that the current restrictions on movement and work patterns can bring for people using services.

It recognises that lack of staff and social distancing has meant much of the routine care and treatment in the community has been reduced or stopped. 

It advises that there should still be an option for emergency contact with community mental health services even when appointments have been cancelled.

It gives information on current practice with visiting people in hospital or care homes, and discusses the new emergency legislation that is in place but has not yet come into use.

The advice gives a number of contacts for support and information, including contact information for the Commission’s own advice line.

Anyone who wishes to give feedback to the Commission on this advice, or make suggestions for any updates, can contact the Commission at: 
enquiries@mwcscot.org.uk

A copy of the Advice Note can be found here

Social Security update

Changes to eligibility

The Scottish Government has temporarily changed eligibility for a number of our benefits. This is to help people who are impacted by coronavirus and can’t get an application in on time – due to illness or caring responsibilities – to still get the support that they need.

We are working to update our online forms at the moment to reflect these changes, so if a client gets a warning to say that their application is late, they should make sure that they continue and submit so that we can process this.

Clients who make a late application after 7 April may still be treated as eligible even when the delay means they are out with our normal eligibility ages. This is provided they have explained that the reason for their application being late is due to Covid-19.
 
We will consider their application as if it was submitted on the final date that they would have actually been eligible. That means, if someone applies for Pregnancy and Baby Payment after their baby turns six months old, we will check their application against their circumstances on the day before their baby turned six months – including whether or not they were getting a qualifying benefit on that day.

Payments include:

  • Best Start grant
  • Pregnancy and baby payments
  • Early learning payments
  • Funeral support payment
  • Young carer grant

Redetermination and appeals timescales have been extended.

Read more

Communication for people with sensory loss during the COVID-19 pandemic: advice for health and social care staff in Scotland

People with sensory loss face extra barriers to accessing healthcare which can put them at risk of missing out on the care they need, and avoidable death. In addition, due to the increased risk of adverse outcomes from respiratory conditions for many disabled people, they may be more likely to need to access healthcare services. At this time, it is vital that health and social care workers can still make the reasonable adjustments required by law that these patients need – this document will help you identify the most important things you need to do to communicate effectively with your patient to support their health needs.   

Communicating effectively can help your patient to:  

  • Understand advice about how to deal with the symptoms of COVID-19 and keep themselves, and others safe; 
  • Comply with treatment such as medicine dosage; 
  • Keep to appointments and engage with healthcare professionals; 
  • Give you the information you need about their symptoms; 
  • Recall the information you have given them; 
  • Make their own decisions and give valid consent to treatment; 

Remember communication is both about giving and receiving information.  

  • Where possible, always talk directly with the person; 
  • Always ask for the individual’s preferred language and communication method; 
  • Remember that noisy and busy environments can make communication difficult for many disabled people;  
  • People may have more than one disability;  
  • Do not assume just because someone has a mobile number that they can receive important communications via text; 
  • National and local charities, and self-advocacy groups, or companies like www.a2i.co.uk and www.ecomdda.com, can provide communication support and solutions. It may also be appropriate to ask the individual which organisation they recommend consulting. A wide range of third sector groups can also offer support, including: 

Patients who are blind or partially sighted  

  • Let the individual know you are there or if you are leaving the room; 
  • Make sure you have large print, electronic, audio version and Braille versions of information available;  
  • If the person is in a hospital bed, have you told them when and where you have placed food or drink near them (e.g. 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock etc) so they do not go hungry or thirsty? Have you told them about the location of important items such as the emergency call button and checked that they have understood and can reach them?  
  • More communication tips can be found here: https://www.rnib.org.uk/sites/default/files/10%20tips%20sight%20loss%20Communication_0.pdf   

Patients who are Deaf or who have hearing loss

Older people are at higher risk of becoming severely ill due to coronavirus. More than 40% age 40, 60% age 60, 70% of people over the age of 70 and 90% over 75 have hearing loss. It is important to:

  • Establish the communication needs of the patient. The pillars of deafness and language preference describe Deaf, Deafblind, Deafened and Hard of Hearing as people with different levels of deafness.
  • Many people with hearing loss rely on visual cues such as lipreading and facial expressions. Communication can become more difficult or impossible on the telephone or when you are wearing a mask or using the wrong language, be that a sign language or verbal language. When wearing a mask, speak clearly, check understanding by asking them to repeat, speak to a friend or relative if absolutely necessary. Alternatively, use paper and pens, laptops or tablets, or visuals and symbols to communicate.  
  • Telephone based services are inaccessible. Do you provide email, SMS text, Text Relay, textphones or British Sign Language (BSL) video relay or remote interpreting services? Deaf and deafblind BSL users in Scotland can use the contactSCOTLAND – BSL service to contact anyone, anytime. 
  • For patients in a hospital bed, have you checked if they have hearing aids and that they are working? If they do not have hearing aids but need them, check with audiology locally to see if a personal listener can be supplied. 
  • Comply with the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015, NHS and medical guidance. 
  • Are your hearing loop systems working? Are they regularly tested? Do you have a portable facility? 
  • More communication tips can be found here: https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/how-we-help/health-and-social-care-professionals/communication-tips-for-health-professionals/  
  • https://www.hearinglink.org/living/partners-children-family-hearing-people/how-to-communicate-with-a-hearing-impaired-person/ 

Patients who are deafblind  

Other useful links:

Scotland’s Inclusive Communication Hub gives additional useful resources. Search ‘Top Tips’ for information on other communication support needs, such as learning disability or autism: https://inclusivecommunication.scot

Clinical guidance has been published for front line staff to support the management of patients with a learning disability, autism or both during the coronavirus pandemic: https://www.scld.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Managing-patients-with-ID-FINAL.pdf

Advice on Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Advice from the Scottish Accessible Information Forum:

www.saifscotland.org.uk/information-and-advice/#sthash.eXppa6lA.dpbs 

During the current COVID-19 pandemic Deafblind Scotland is sending out regular information to keep deafblind people updated on the developments and support that is available to them during this crisis and is extend this supporting to people with a visual impairment as well. The charity is providing the following services which are open for referrals from partner agencies/services:

  • Regular briefings for deafblind blind and visually impaired people, in alternative formats (large print, extra large print, braille, moon, audio cd). These will provide up to date information on the crisis, benefits information and any other developments.
  • 1:1 telephone support to access advice on welfare and benefits including hardship grants, food funds, access to shopping etc.

Contact wr@dbscotland.org.uk for more information.

The Scottish Government has launched a new helpline for peoplewho are at high risk from coronavirus and do not have a support network at home, including disabled people. The phone number is 0800 111 4000. This communication guidance has been produced by the following organisations. We are extremely grateful for all that health and social care staff are doing in these unprecedented times. We hope that this information is valuable for staff in supporting their patients.

Update from the Scottish Information Commissioner

1) COVID-19 AND FOI IN SCOTLAND:
New information hub launched

The office of the Scottish Information Commissioner has launched a new information hub on FOI during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. It can be found at www.itspublicknowledge.info/covid-19

The hub pulls together guidance and information for public authorities and members of the public about FOI in Scotland during the pandemic.

The Covid-19 and FOI infohub includes:

The hub will be updated and added to as new information becomes available. If you have other queries or require further information, please contact us at enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info

Also, please note: in our email to authorities last week, we stated that the changes made by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 were not retrospective, since no provision in the Act specified this. Since then, we have received legal advice that the Act applies to requests for information or review which were made before the Act but which had not yet been responded to at the time the Act came in to force. The Commissioner will now proceed on this basis – please see relevant FAQs in our new infohub for further detail.

2) FOI / EIR STATISTICS RETURN

Authorities’ FOI/EIR statistics for the latest quarter (1 January to 31 March 2020) are due for submission to our stats portal by 8 May 2020.

The passage of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 does not change the requirement to collect and record statistical data about FOI requests in accordance with section 2 of the s60 Code of Practice. Authorities should therefore continue to collect and record their request handling data.

The Commissioner’s office is sympathetic to the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on public authorities at present, however. We therefore ask you to submit your statistics to our portal before 8 May if you are able, but will allow for delays in doing so in the short/medium term where this is necessary.

If you are unable to submit by 8 May, we ask that you submit your data as soon as it is possible to do so. This may include submitting two quarters’ data by the next deadline of 7 August 2020. Should you need any help, please let us know via enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info.

What to do with your rubbish if you have COVID-19 symptoms

The UK Government has provided guidance on how to dispose of personal waste, like tissues, disposable cleaning cloths, wipes and masks if you have Coronavirus symptoms.

The guidance is for anyone with symptoms, including those diagnosed with the infection, who must remain at home until they are well. It also applies to people in households with someone showing symptoms (a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature) that may be caused by coronavirus.

Personal waste, should be stored securely in disposable rubbish bags. These should then be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within your home. The double-bagged waste should be put aside for at least 72 hours in a place that can’t be accessed by other people or pets, before being put in your non-recyclable waste bin which will be collected as part of the usual fortnightly collections.

Other household waste can be disposed of as normal. Full guidance for people staying at home because of confirmed or possible infection can be found on the Government’s website.

Scotland’s first Bereavement Charter for Children and Adults launches today

The Charter, together with Guidance notes and frequently asked questions (FAQs) contains 15 statements that describe what the best bereavement care and support should look like. It has been developed to support individuals and communities who struggle with the death of someone they know or someone in their community.

Today, the need for such a Charter has become even more important due to the unique circumstances we currently find ourselves in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. People who are bereaved may not have been able to be with a person as they approach the end of their life and may be isolated from their usual networks of support. It has also changed the traditional ways we are able to mark our grief. Traditional bereavement rituals and funerals have changed with many people now unable to attend funerals in the way that they might have in the past. Many deaths have become sudden, with little or no time to prepare.

Every death is unique and the way we each come to terms with a death is individual. this Charter and Guidance attempts to describe what good bereavement support can look like and what difference it can make. #becausegriefmatters